Andrew Lloyd Webber passed over his many volumes of theatre compositions to choose the Pie Jesu passage from his Requiem as his single favorite work.
Webber made the choice in a Dec. 13 interview with Barbara Walters on TV's "20/20," occasioned by the Dec. 12 world premiere of his latest musical, Whistle Down the Wind, in Washington DC, and the impending opening of the Madonna film adaptation of Evita.
There were no startling revelations in the 20-minute profile/interview, which included some moderately rare footage of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman singing "Music of the Night" and Betty Buckley recording the original cast album of Cats. There also was a clip from Whistle in which the youngsters sang "No Matter What" to a silent Davis Gaines. But the show produced several items of note for Webber fans:
* Though he was knighted, he doesn't like to be called "Sir Andrew." He said Americans seem to be much more "reverential" in the matter than his fellow Brits.
* Jesus Christ Superstar, currently enjoying a 25th anniversary revival in the West End, was written as a "triangle" among Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Judas Iscariot. * The JCS song "I Don't Know How To Love Him" was originally written as a pop tune, "Kansas Morning." Webber went on to sing passages of the song with the original lyric, including this one for the end of the song: "Kansas on my brain/ I'm trapped in Maine."
* He reiterated that his favorite key is D-flat major, and pointed out that all his biggest, most emotional numbers are in this favored key. He went on to play "Memory" in different keys to illustrate how "resonant" D-flat is by comparison.
* When asked if there was any subject that can't be made into a musical, Webber said you have to find "a dramatic hook to hand the whole thing on," and said Phantom hangs on its "high romance," while Sunset Boulevard examines the effects of madness.
* He acknowledged that Madonna was not his first choice to play Evita in the film, but declined to say who was. He said using Madonna was "a very, very intelligent idea" if they were going for a "tight bit" of character casting.
* When asked if he was sick of hearing any of his songs, he again demurred, though said he hated hearing his tunes mauled by "terrible bar pianists who get every other note wrong."
* Asked what song of all his oeuvre he would put into a time capsule if he had to pick only one, Webber chose the Pie Jesu from Requiem, his one "serious" orchestral work, which he said was inspired by the 1982 death of his father.
-- By Robert Viagas